VIDEO The Real Deal Decision, An Authentic Commitment

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3 (NIV). Rob Atkinson (original image link)

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2

The stories of Navy SEAL training are legendary—perhaps the most demanding of any military branch. Why do the SEALs (along with the Army Rangers, Deltas, Special Forces, and others) endure such rigorous training? So that trainees will count the cost before committing. So they will be faithful in the heat of battle. It’s why the Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis—“Always Faithful.”

Faithfulness. It’s at the heart of every mission statement—military, business, family, or church. The apostle Paul said only one thing is required of stewards: to be faithful. Paul was a steward of Christ’s commission to take the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 26:17-18). But of what is every Christian a steward? The Great Commission, to begin with (Matthew 28:19-20). But also, we are stewards of the love and grace of God that has been poured into us by the Spirit (Romans 5:5). Such love and grace was given at great cost—the life of Jesus Himself.

Jesus warned the crowds that followed Him to count the cost before committing (Luke 14:25-33). Once committed, faithfulness is all that matters. Authentic Christians are true stewards; true stewards are faithful forever.

Stewardship is what a man does after he says, “I believe.”  W. H. Greaves

The Glorious Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:1-18)

He Hears Us

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12

United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt often endured long receiving lines at the White House. As the story is told, he complained that no one paid attention to what was said. So, he decided to experiment at a reception. To everyone who passed down the line and shook his hand, he said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. God bless you, Sir.” It wasn’t until the end of the line, greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”

Do you ever wonder if people are really listening? Or worse, do you fear that God isn’t listening? We can tell if people are listening based on their responses or eye contact. But how do we know if God is listening? Should we rely on feelings? Or see if God answers our prayers?

After seventy years of exile in Babylon, God promised to bring His people back to Jerusalem and secure their future (Jeremiah 29:10–11). When they called upon Him, He heard them (v. 12). They knew that God heard their prayers because He promised to listen. And the same is true for us (1 John 5:14). We don’t need to rely on feelings or wait for a sign to know that God listens to us. He’s promised to listen, and He always keeps His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20).

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt that God wasn’t listening? Why did you feel that way?

Dear God, thank You for hearing my prayers, though I may sometimes doubt it. Help me to trust Your promise that You listen to me.

How to Know You’re Growing

Ephesians 4:11-16

We all want to grow in our faith, but how can we measure progress toward spiritual maturity? Here’s a short list of benchmarks to look for. We know it’s spiritual fruit when:

We become increasingly aware of our sinfulness and weakness. When I read biographies of godly men and women, it’s clear that they don’t “get better” with age and spiritual maturity. Instead, they become ever more sensitive to their dependence upon the Lord.

We respond to sin with quick repentance. Failure to deal with sin is rebellion against God. Growing believers turn away from wrongdoing and embrace righteousness. As we begin to see the good results of dependence and repentance, our desire to obey intensifies, and the attraction of sin lessens.

We recognize the potential benefit of struggles. Faith is often developed through hardship. So we’ll see maturity in our relationship with God when we view trials and temptations as opportunities for growth.

But remember, the list above is just a starting point. Spending time in the Word and in prayer is the best way to get closer to Jesus. And be assured that no matter what, for those who wait on God and trust in Him, He acts in their behalf (Isa. 64:4).

The Meek of the Earth

“Seek ye the LORD all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger.” (Zephaniah 2:3)

This phrase, “the meek of the earth,” occurs three times in the Bible (see also Psalm 76:9, which promises their salvation; and Isaiah 11:4, which assures them justice). Our text promises deliverance from God’s wrath.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5), said Jesus, referring to the promise of Psalm 37:11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

There are many other similar promises: “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way” (Psalm 25:9). “He will beautify the meek with salvation” (Psalm 149:4), so we need to put on “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:4).

That meekness is not weakness is made clear from the first use of the word in the Bible. “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Moses was strong and courageous, but also deeply humble and self-sacrificing; a man of prayer and trust in the Word of God, willing to defend it at all costs. The Lord Jesus defined meekness in terms of His own human character: “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29).

A meek spirit enables a Christian to maintain composure in the face of opposition, to accept adversity without complaint, promotion without arrogance, demotion without resentment. It produces a peace that no trouble can disturb and that no prosperity can puff up. Therefore, as our text commands: “Seek meekness!” HMM

Blessed Among Women

Luke 1:26-56

THE beautiful story of the annunciation of the birth of Christ to Mary has suffered from overemphasis among some and underemphasis among others. Mary has been called “The Mother of God,” which she was not. She was the mother of the Man Christ Jesus. She was “highly favored” and “blessed among women” for exactly this reason: God had chosen her to be the virgin mother of His only begotten Son as pertaining to the flesh. There is a Mariolatry which ignores our Lord’s own attitude toward His mother.

Genesis 3:15 now received fulfillment, and “the Seed of the woman” is coming to bruise the serpent’s head. Isaiah 7:14 here comes to fulfillment in the Son “Immanuel.” He is to reign over the house of Jacob from the throne of David, a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. Christ is at the right hand of the throne of God but not now on the throne of David.

It is significant that the first question asked about the virgin birth was asked by the virgin herself: “How shall this be?” Men have asked it ever since, but here is God’s own answer: that it is the supernatural work of the Holy Ghost and the power of God. Much argument is focused on the supernatural birth instead of the supernatural Son. The Son of God required a birth in keeping with His deity. Who He is explains how He was born.

Mary goes to Elizabeth with the good news and breaks forth into the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Very similar is Hannah’s prophetic prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, for both close with reference to Christ: “His king” with Hannah, and the “Help” promised Israel with Mary. The theme through both is the marvelous way in which God puts down the mighty and exalts those of low degree, even as He still does in His choosing of the saints (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, had already called Mary “the mother of my Lord.” So she was, but mother of Him as man in no way elevates her to be worthy of adoration or worship. Bengel rightly says that she is addressed as a daughter of grace, not as the mother of it (Luke 1:28).

A beautiful little lesson in faith is gathered from verses 34, 37 and 45. “How shall this be?”—that is the query of men since the beginning when faced with the message of the supernatural power of God. The natural man cannot receive or comprehend how God works His wonders of grace!

The answer is “With God nothing shall be impossible” (v. 37). God is able to save (Heb. 7:25), to keep (Jude 24), to succor (Heb. 2:18), to deliver (Dan. 3:17), to do (Eph. 3:20), to subdue (Phil. 3:21).

Then verse 45: “And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her of the Lord.” It is always so when we take Him at His word. He who promises will perform. Do not ask “How?” Take Him at His Word and it shall be done even as He has said.

But Your Head Is Gone

Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.—Acts 3:19

One of the things we must do if we are to stay spiritually fresh is to break decisively with everything that Christ cannot approve.

When we are fighting sin and evil, we are fighting a defeated foe, because Jesus met and conquered every sin on the cross. You will never meet a single sin that has not been defeated by Christ. So if sin is bullying you, do what E. Stanley Jones advised. He said: “When sin intimidates me, I quietly ask it to bend its neck. When it does, I joyfully point to the footprints of the Son of God on its neck. My inferiority complex is gone. I am on the winning side.” This language may be picturesque, but the truth is powerful—because of what Christ has accomplished on Calvary, we walk the earth amid conquered foes.

A far-fetched but illustrative story from the ancient battles of Africa tells how a warrior was beheaded during a skirmish, but he fought on even though his head was gone. He succeeded in killing many until someone said, “But your head has gone! You’re dead,” whereupon he fell down and died. When sin comes against you, point and say: “Look, your head has gone. My Master conquered you on the cross. Begone! You are headless.” Evil fights on, but it is brainless. It depends on prejudices, old habits, and perhaps above all on our lack of decisiveness. So if there are still any sins in your life that need to be dealt with, face them in the assurance that they are conquered foes, and break decisively with everything that Christ cannot approve.


O God, thank You for reminding me that I need not develop an inferiority complex in relation to sin—it is a conquered foe. Help me to accept and enter into the great victory of Calvary. In Christ’s powerful name. Amen.

Further Study

1Jn 1; Pr 28:13; Col 2:14

What prevents us from prospering?

How are we to deal with sin?

God in the Shadows

Deuteronomy 33:27

Josef Korbel was imprisoned for ten years, often in solitary confinement. He was interrogated and tortured and half-starved for most of the time.

After his arrest, Josef’s wife, Erna, used her skills as a nurse to support herself and her children, although often under the harassment of the communist authorities. In Brno she met an elderly woman, Mrs. Krejci, a widow who lived with her son who had a key position in a bank. Not being a communist, the son lost his job and endeavored to escape from the country only to be arrested and thrown into prison. The old lady had heard about the torture meted out to prisoners and also the inhumanity of many prisoners toward their fellow inmates. “If only they would put him in a cell with a decent man!” cried the old lady.

One evening, in the dead of the night, Josef’s cell door was flung open and four guards pushed in a man. The newcomer standing unsteadily near the cell door was well dressed with a fur coat gaping open and a white shirt drenched with blood.

Josef lay the fellow down and taking a piece of wet rag pressed it gently to his battered face. In the morning Josef learned of the man’s attempt to leave the country and of his arrest, then shared something of his own experience, saying,

“My crime was my religious activity and preaching the Word of God. I was a Salvation Army officer in Brno.”

The man lifted his head. “In Brno? In The Salvation Army? I am from Brno and I know a nurse there who attended my sick mother. This nurse also used to be in The Salvation Army before the organization was liquidated. She was a lovely and tender woman and my mother loved her.”

Josef was intrigued. “Do you remember her name?” he asked. “Yes,” the man replied, “It was Mrs. Korbel.” “Then that was my wife,” said Josef!

He hadn’t known what had happened to Erna or his children after his arrest. Was she also in prison? Was she undergoing torture? He feared the worst even while he hoped for the best. Now he had news that she was still able to use her nursing skill and bring comfort to those in need.

There would have been thousands of inmates in prisons for political or other offenses. Humanly speaking, the chances of Krejci and Korbel being placed in the same cell would have been remote. But God was at work even in the midst of evil. While Erna was ministering to the mother, her husband was giving practical and spiritual assistance to the son. By the grace of God they both survived to tell their tale of answered prayer.

Wesley Harris, Truth Stranger Than Fiction